Shop stewards' learning and union strategies

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    In Denmark the trade unions have well established educational systems providing the shop stewards with a variety of competencies. Union courses have been analysed focusing on shop stewards' satisfaction with the content and the practical impact of the courses. However, little attention has been paid to the learning processes involved in shop stewards' daily practice in their workplaces.

    In the paper I will discuss results from a research and development project involving shop stewards from four different unions, all part of LO (the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella organisation for skilled and unskilled workers). The project wanted to explore shop stewards' learning and together with shop stewards develop ideas for new learning arenas and new political agendas for the unions. In the paper I will show how shop stewards' learning can be analysed using perspectives from different theoretical traditions: Shop steward's learning is situational, relational and cross-contextual. Shop stewards' learning is lifelong and life wide. And shop stewards' learning is closely connected to the development of the labour market and not least the unions' priorities, interpretation and reaction to this development.

    In the first part of the paper I shortly discuss challenges of unions today following the decline in number of members. In the second part I present results from the research project. Thirdly, I discuss how different theoretical approaches to learning are relevant for studies of shop stewards' learning. And finally I turn to some of the strategic challenges regarding shop stewards' learning and education and the political agenda of the unions. It will be argued that the two issues are closely interrelated, which points to analytical approaches that include subjective learning perspectives as well as socio-cultural and political theories.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResearching work and learning : 5th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning (RWL5) : Conference proceedings, Cape Town, South Africa, 2-5 December 2007
    Number of pages17
    PublisherUniversity of the Western Cape
    Publication date2007
    ISBN (Print)9781868086580, 1868086585
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    Event5th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning - Cape Town, South Africa
    Duration: 2 Dec 20075 Dec 2007
    Conference number: 5


    Conference5th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning
    Country/TerritorySouth Africa
    CityCape Town

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